Peninsula Elections 2020: Water Replenishment District 2 (4 candidates, 1 seat)
by Dan Blackburn
Four candidates are vying for a single seat to represent District II on the board of the Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WDR), the largest groundwater agency in the state.
[View candidates debate hosted by Easy Reader, HermosaOne.com and Peninsula magazine Beach Cities/Palos Verdes Elections 2020.]
Third generation Californian and internet technology specialist George Uraguchi poses the most serious challenge to incumbent Rob Katherman, a district board member for the past 16 years. Joe Macias and G. Rick Marshall are also running; neither of them submitted information for this article.
The WDR contains 43 cities, including a portion of Los Angeles County, and focuses on managing and protecting groundwater resources for more than 4 million residents. It manages both the Central and West Coast groundwater basins, injecting water for replenishment and sea water barriers.
The district was formed 60 years ago.
Two candidates explained to Easy Reader why they are running for the seat:
Uraguchi spent most of his professional years in IT, where he worked for major firms like TRW, Nissan Motors, Marymount College, and McKinsey & Company.
Uraguchi believes voters “have the right to expect our representative to be vigilant in protecting this resource on our behalf. District 2 constituents deserve clean water as well as clean government.”
He cited three priorities: provision of clean water, ethical spending, and transparent government.
“Clean water and clean government go hand-in-hand,” he said. “We need a change from the current administration to trustworthy elected officials who prioritize taxpayers over special interests. We need a change from regular scandals, conflict-of-interest audits, and expensive lawsuits that are being paid for by the taxpayers.”
Uraguchi said many of the board’s decisions “further eroded my confidence that they have the public’s best interests in mind. Instead, they seem to favor special interests. Numerous newspaper exposés have detailed corruption and unethical contracts related to lobbyists, consultants, and other entrenched politicians.”
He describes himself as a fiscal conservative who wants to “hold the line with spending and bond issuance.” He also opposed the planned desalination plant in El Segundo, asserting it makes no financial sense.
“As a voter, I’m sick and tired of politicians using elected office as their personal ATM. Elect people who are clean, who care, and have experience in decision-making and problem-solving in the public interest.”
A UCLA graduate, Uraguchi was a special aide to Secretary of State March Fong Eu from 1981-1984.
Bob Katherman has more than 45 years experience in public and private sector management, in land use and environmental planning. He’s managing partner in the Katherman Companies, a planning and public affairs enterprise.
He was part of the Replenishment District’s effort to secure nearly $30 million in grants for recycled water projects during the past two years.
Katherman noted that the WRD is “preparing preliminary plans for construction of a $150 Million regional brackish groundwater desalination plant in Torrance.”
The facility is designed to scrub 600,000 acre-feet of undrinkable saline groundwater created by seawater intrusion.
“This project,” he said, “will supply an additional 20 million gallons a day of locally sustainable fresh water for WDR customers, further reducing our reliance on imported water from Northern California.”
Katherman said climate change “continues to disrupt our water supply, but we are in good standing because of our work.”
Katherman spoke of another district project of which he is proud: “We created the Disadvantaged Communities Safe Drinking Water Assistance Program.”
It provides technical assistance to small water systems in applying for State of California Bond funds.
“Those monies,” he said, “would then be used to construct wellhead treatment facilities to guarantee clean, safe and affordable drinking water for disadvantaged community residents.
Katherman has degrees in civil engineering, environmental engineering, and regional planning.
Joe L. Macias
Joe L. Macias is an engineer fitter and businessman. His top three priorities, according to his statement on VotersEdge.org are: to establish strong relationships with elected officials at the State and Congressional levels to help to provide affordable water; ensure labor compliance on all infrastructure projects, including the use of domestic materials; and equipment and to work with other water districts to help reduce the area’s reliance on imported water.
Macias also said he would insure safe and efficient water delivery through modernization and long term maintenance. And that his stewardship would include public engagement, full disclosure, coordination with other agencies and youth education.
“Our future water independence must be put into action through a climate change approach and leadership. Pen
by Jen Ezpeleta